Tribute: My friend Jack Doig

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Above: Jack Doig with his favourite carving, a rendering of stockman's saddle and swag.

My name is Warren Bolton, I first met Jack Doig 15 years ago when he joined my woodcarving class at the Central Queensland Institute of TAFE Mackay. The last seven years I have been with Saint Patrick’s College as an Industrial, Technology and Design Teacher and until recently had lost contact with Jack. Unfortunately, when we did reunite, it was to find that Jack had been given 10 months left to live due to oesophageal cancer. I personally felt that the skill level and artistry that Jack possesses should be shared with the world. The conversation with Jack below is a short summary of his life and reveals his passion for woodworking. I hope you will enjoy looking at some of his projects and appreciate Jack’s fine work and sense of humour.


 Jack Doig's carving of R.M Wiiliams, and to the left, the woodburnt portrait that inspired it. Jack also made the leather stirrups. The whip was made by Tidley Triffett, a whip maker in Charters Towers, North Queensland.

Where were you born and raised?
Five Dock, in the Western Suburbs of Sydney

What was your working background?
I completed a cabinetmaking apprenticeship and then went into the building industry. I got sick of Sydney and moved to Papua New Guinea when I was 24. I spent 12 years there with the Public Works Department before moving to Mackay in 1973. I then started a milk run and over the next 20 years only had one 12-month break. When I went back to the cabinetmaking it didn’t work out, so I decided to retire.


The R.M. William boots carved by Jack Doig are hollowed out to the toe. Jack also made the metal and leather stirrups.

What do you love about woodwork?
The multitude of different species of timber and the vast array of tools that enable you to work the timber. I’ve loved woodworking right back from my school days. It has always been there, the love of it all.

What was the first project you made?
It was a four-seater round dining room table manufactured from radiata pine. Four legs were joined into a single turned pedestal column that supported the top.


 Jack Doig's carving of a stockman's saddle and swag. "Jack made everything on this piece, including the metal strap buckles."

What is your favourite piece?
The saddle on the fence post carving. I loved the timber species and the work it takes to create each piece.

Do you have a favourite species of timber to work with?
I like lots of different species, but Burdekin Plum is my number one choice.


A bronze by Phil Doig which employed the mould made by Jack Doig.

What other endeavours have you ventured into?
I’ve made bronze moulds for my nephew Philip Doig in Bathurst NSW. I also enjoy woodturning but like to push the boundaries by making miniatures or by adding some humour. I like to experiment with different finishes and have my own secret mix that works very well.


Pushing boundaries: extremes of tiny turnings, and a "stool sample" made to fulfill a doctor's request.

Do you have any advice for budding woodworkers?
The personal satisfaction of producing a fine project from a bare piece of timber is so rewarding. You’ll see the results from basic skills and the workmanship that you are constantly developing with every hour you invest in yourself.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Simply put, remember the need to always maintain quality.


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